Oct 14, 2016
Back in 2008, in the weeks leading up to the Obama-McCain presidential election, two young men visited me in Denver. They were from Catholics United, a group describing itself as committed to social justice issues. They voiced great concern at the manipulative skill of Catholic agents for the Republican Party. And they hoped my brother bishops and I would resist identifying the Church with single-issue and partisan (read: abortion) politics.
It was an interesting experience. Both men were obvious flacks for the Obama campaign and the Democratic Party – creatures of a political machine, not men of the Church; less concerned with Catholic teaching than with its influence. And presumably (for them) bishops were dumb enough to be used as tools, or at least prevented from helping the other side. Yet these two young men not only equaled but surpassed their Republican cousins in the talents of servile partisan hustling. Thanks to their work, and activists like them, American Catholics helped to elect an administration that has been the most stubbornly unfriendly to religious believers, institutions, concerns and liberty in generations.
I never saw either young man again. The cultural damage done by the current White House has – apparently – made courting America's bishops unnecessary.
But bad can always get worse. I'm thinking, of course, of the contemptuously anti-Catholic emails exchanged among members of the Clinton Democratic presidential campaign team and released this week by WikiLeaks. A sample: Sandy Newman, president of Voices for Progress, emailed John Podesta, now the head of Hillary Clinton's campaign, to ask about whether "the bishops opposing contraceptive coverage" could be the tinder for a revolution. "There needs to be a Catholic Spring, in which Catholics themselves demand the end of a middle ages [sic] dictatorship," Newman writes.